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The Peregrine Financial Scandal: An Explainer

Jul 11, 2012
A futures brokerage, Peregrine Financial, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and the scandal is dominating the financial news. Easy Street explains.
Posted In: Peregrine Financial

How Money Market Funds Were Wounded by European Interest-Rate Cuts

Jul 6, 2012
Several big financial firms, including Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, are pulling back from money market funds because interest rates have made the investment unprofitable.

Nine Biggest Banks Publish Their 'Living Wills'

Today, July 3, is the deadline for the nine biggest banks working in the U.S. to publish their "living wills" - a handy guide to their financial position and what their plan is to sell off or refinance their businesses if there's another major financial crisis.

The living wills are part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform act; they're designed to help us break up and wind down banks if they fail in another financial crisis, without spending taxpayer money on bailouts. (Good luck with that).

Only the nine biggest banks - the ones with more than $50 billion in assets - released their living wills today. Another 114 banks will submit their living wills next year.

Easy Street brings you the link to the living wills, courtesy of the FDIC, here.

Just as an early look, the banks wanted to keep things as vague as possible. (Although we're sure their legal teams are going to be really mad at us for saying so.)

Bank of America, for instance, used its living will to do some cheerleading about its future goals in a very "dear diary" manner:It wants to "continue to build a fortress balance sheet" (from its current sand-castle balance sheet, we suppose); it wants to "manage efficiency well," and it wants to "be a good place to work." All of those are noble goals, but will they help the bank avoid a messy demise in a devastating financial crisis? They will not. Be sure to peruse the other living will as you sit in traffic on the way to the beach.


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Jul 3, 2012

LIBOR For Mortals: An Easy Explainer

Jul 3, 2012
An investigation into LIBOR -- a crucial interest-rate benchmark -- has resulted in a fine for Barclays and the resignation of its chairman, Marcus Agius. But what does it all mean for the average American? Easy Street is here to help.
Posted In: LIBOR, interest rates

Is U.S. Economic Policy Helping the Rich Get Richer?

Jun 29, 2012
Dallas Fed president Richard Fisher spoke at the Aspen Ideas Festival, bemoaning the direction of U.S. economic policy.

The One Financial Crash We Avoided

Jun 29, 2012
A conversation at the Aspen Ideas Festival reminded me: commercial real-estate was saved because Wall Street had an incentive to fix its own problems.

America: The Best-Looking Horse in the Glue Factory

Here at the Aspen Ideas Festival, we may be seeing the start of a meme about America's financial place in the world.

Here's the conundrum: The U.S. economy is finally on the road to an excruciatingly slow recovery. In fact, we're far better off than most of the rest of the world - particularly Europe and China - as their economies struggle with the prospect of recession. Investors keep buying Treasury bonds because America's economic future is considered a safe haven.

If you think we should celebrate being ahead of most of the world, you should listen to what economists are saying about us. 

Most, they're searching for metaphors to describe how really, we're no great shakes after all. (See our piece from September 2011 to find one of the earlier examples, from our own pens.)

I've compiled a couple of the better ones I've heard here at the Aspen Ideas Festival and on Twitter.

 "We're the best-looking horse in the glue factory." - Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve, to Maria Bartiromo at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

"We're the best-looking horse in the glue factory." - Erskine Bowles in 2010

"The U.S. is the least-dirty shirt in the laundry basket." - Simon Johnson, economist, to Kai Ryssdal at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

"We're the least-dirty shirt. The world is full of dirty shirts." - PIMCO's Bill Gross to Bloomberg, 2010

"The US is the fastest camper outrunning the bear." -Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, joking on Twitter. 

Try out your own witty contributions in the comments below. I'll tweet the best ones.


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Jun 29, 2012

Easy Street Goes to the Aspen Ideas Festival

Aspen, Colorado, is. on the surface, a 1% kind of town. The small local airport is filled with the sleek, blank white bodies of private jets. A trip of more than three blocks, joked one of my Twitter friends today, requires a limousine. Gucci and Louis Vuitton pepper the stores, even if most of the people are dressed in khakis and button-downs.

But that's not the whole story of Aspen. It's also a working town, a town where a considerable local population works to maintain the economy. The symbiosis of rich and middle-class here results in a surprising lack of class resentment; maybe, like the Aspen trees the town is named for, the residents realize that their experiences here are interconnected by the roots, that they share a common soil. Maybe it's also because Aspen is a town where almost everyone seems to be passing through - the wealthy on their vacations, many of the workers here for a summer or a couple of seasons or a year or so.

The Aspen Institute is one of the few stalwarts of permanence in the town. It was founded in 1950 to foster ideas and open thinking, and for the past eight years, has run its Aspen Ideas Festival for two weeks every summer. In hourlong sessions, conferences, tutorials and outings, the attendees devote themselves to a kind of cultural core curriculum: where is our society going? What can we learn from it? And how can it be better?

Marketplace has had a presence at the Ideas Festival in recent years -reporting and broadcasting live -  and we do again this year.  I'll post regular updates about the best ideas and discussions we're hearing here - often things you won't hear anywhere else. Check back often.

 


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Jun 28, 2012

What Can We Learn from 147 Bank Crises?

Jun 26, 2012
International Monetary Fund researchers explained some interesting patterns and lessons of financial disaster, after studying 147 bank crises, 218 currency crises and 66 country crises in the financial health of companies. Easy Street brings you their findings in plain English.

Moody's: Government Would Bail Out Banks. Except JP Morgan.

Jun 22, 2012
Moody's ratings downgrade of major banks today included some backhanded compliments.

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About this collection

A collection of world economic and business stories in collaboration with the BBC.